Triumph and Disaster on tap

We have established our independence from England, but they still put on the granddaddy of all tennis tournaments, the second week of which starts in an hour or two. Having made the pilgrimage to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on a rainy day a year and a half ago, I'm following the action with a new appreciation. 

At this point, the field is down to a manageable 16 men and 16 women in the singles competitions. All 32 of them play today, and so half of them will be going home before the night is over.

Two of the big three on the men's side, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, are still in it. If they both keep winning, they'll stage a rematch of the last men's singles final, two years ago. The Djoker took that won, although Roger had a couple of clear chances. (The third of the big three, Rafael Nadal, is presently home in Spain licking his wounds after not winning the French Open.)

On the women's side, the defending champ, Simona Halep, didn't even show up due to injury.  The champ from the year before, Angelique Kerber, is still playing, and she's got the match of the day for sure, taking on the United States' 17-year-old firecracker, Coco Gauff. That could be a match for the ages.

When you get down to just 16 players in each competition, every match is worth watching. I wish I were rich; I'd have a ticket to be in the stands every day. Here are the men's matchups, with the current betting favorite in bold:

Italy (7) Matteo Berrettini vs. Belarus Ilya Ivashka

Hungary Marton Fucsovics vs. Russia (5) Andrey Rublev

Serbia (1) Novak Djokovic vs. Chile (17) Cristian Garin

Poland (14) Hubert Hurkacz vs. Russia (2) Daniil Medvedev

Russia (25) Karen Khachanov vs. USA Sebastian Korda

Canada (10) Denis Shapovalov vs. Spain (8) Roberto Bautista Agut

Canada (16) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Germany (4) Alexander Zverev

Switzerland (6) Roger Federer vs. Italy (23) Lorenzo Sonego

The two tightest calls are Shapovalov-Bautista Agut and Khachanov-Korda. Those are where the gamblers are going against the seedings.

Over on the distaff side, of the 16 remaining competitors, four are "-ova." We have:

Poland (7) Iga Swiatek vs. Tunisia (21) Ons Jabeur

Australia (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. Czech Republic (14) Barbora Krejcikova

USA (23) Madison Keys vs. Switzerland Viktorija Golubic

USA (20) Cori Gauff vs. Germany (25) Angelique Kerber

Kazakhstan (18) Elena Rybakina vs. Belarus (2) Aryna Sabalenka

Czech Republic (8) Karolina Pliskova vs. Russia Liudmilla Samsonova

Spain (30) Paula Badosa vs. Czech Republic (19) Karolina Muchova

Great Britain Emma Raducanu vs. Australia Ajla Tomljanovic

As you can see, Pliskova-Samsonova is a tossup at this hour. Samsonova is a recent phenom. And Raducanu, who is British and will have the spectators behind her, is only 18 years old. Krejcikova is coming off winning the French Open, but she's got to deal with Ash Barty, who's wicked on grass and seems to have recovered from an injury that had sidelined her until now.

Of all the superb players competing in the second week of Wimbledon, I think I'm rooting the hardest for Maddie Keys. It's not a country thing, really. It's just that she's a great player who is overdue to play some championship tennis. Keys has made it through to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon before, but that was five years ago. Let's hope she gets there again now, to face an "-ova" (either Plisk- or Samson-). It ain't over 'til it's "-ova."